Science Behind Some Popular Phrases...

Publish Date
Thursday, 26 November 2015, 11:02AM

• ‘Raining Cats & Dogs’ – In 17th century England it was common to discard waste in the street … even dead household pets. Once it rained so much that the deceased critters became buoyant and floated along the gutters, inspiring writer Richard Brome in 1651 to predict, “It shall rain dogs and polecats.”

• ‘Never Look a Gift Horse In the Mouth’ – In other words, don’t be ungrateful when someone gives you something. You can tell a horse’s age by looking at its teeth, particularly the incisors, but if someone gave you a horse as a gift, it would be considered rude to examine its teeth.

• ‘The Acid Test’ – Gold Rush miners tested possible gold nuggets in acid. Unlike other metals, gold won’t corrode in acid, so if the nugget didn’t dissolve it passed the acid test and therefore was deemed pure gold. If a person passes a figurative acid test, they’re telling the truth.

• ‘In the Limelight’ – Theater stages used to be illuminated by heating lime (calcium oxide) until it glowed. It has a high melting point and, when heated, gives off a brilliant white light which was then focused into a spotlight. So if an actor was in the limelight, he was certainly the center of attention. (Not to mention extremely hot!)